MANILA - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday declared the entire region of Mindanao as an election hotspot.
The restive south has been placed under the "red" category, which meant it has areas with a history of election-related violence or there are intense partisan political rivalry, and serious armed threats, the poll body said in a statement.
Mindanao has been under martial rule since May 2017, when firefights erupted between state troops and terrorists in Marawi City.
Aside from Mindanao, other election hotspots categorized as "red" are Jones town in Isabela, Lope de Vega town, in Northern Samar, and Abra province.
Once an area is under Comelec authority, the commission has full control and supervision of law enforcement agencies and military officers assigned to the said area, including the power to reshuffle or relieve police officers.
Comelec could also recommend the replacement of any public officer or employee who violates any election law or fails to comply with instructions, orders or decisions in performing tasks related to the elections.
Comelec earlier took control over Cotabato City, where a mall bombing left 2 dead in December, and Daraga town in Albay, where AKO Bicol Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe was gunned down the same month.
Meanwhile, 701 areas or 40 percent of the country's towns and cities have been deemed as election hotspots, the Philippine National Police earlier said.